Took a break from research to make some end-of-semester gifts for friends

One thing I love about making gifts for people is putting thought into their style. I consider the colors I usually see them wear, what sorts of designs they seem attracted to, and what materials they might like. Even if I am off the mark and what I’ve made isn’t exactly that person’s style, it is something that has been made uniquely with them in mind.

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Vintage lace necklace with wooden and stone beads 

Last year I bought an enormous collection of vintage trim/lace/rick-rack off of ebay, I am beginning to experiment with using those materials in jewelry. I have never used the ribbon clamps holding the lace in place before, I am hoping that they will be durable and hold on to it tightly. The necklace feels so light and delicate with such a large part of it being merely lace. I used wooden beads for this reason, I didn’t want to use something heavy that might compromise the durability of the necklace but also would offset the airiness of it.

 

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Earrings with wooden leaves and dyed cultivated pearls 

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Earrings with red and purple glass beads, red clay beads 

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Earrings with glass beads: blue faceted and gold foil faceted

 

Windowsill Gardening

It’s still a little too cold in the Northeastern US to plant much outside. I have peas and kale, who love colder spring weather, started outdoors. In the meantime, I’ve run out of front window space! Seedlings have taken over!

 

 

A plastic egg carton makes a very good seed-starting greenhouse. Most plastic egg cartons have three sections- one that goes under the eggs, one that goes over the eggs, and the lid. Cut off the one that goes over the eggs with scissors and then poke holes at the bottom of it with a knife. That piece will then fit right into the section that goes over the eggs, so that the one with holes in it can hold dirt and drain water, and the one underneath it can capture the water. Until the seeds sprout and get too tall, you can use the lid as the top of your greenhouse.

Editing to add some pics from my cellphone to make this simple process more clear:

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Separate the two egg-shaped trays 

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Make holes in the bottom of the separated tray 

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Pick out some seeds, these were my choice today 

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After putting the separated tray with holes back into the intact tray, put a shallow layer of dirt in each compartment and add a seed or two! 

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Fill up the rest of the way with dirt and pat down

Hanging with bias tape

 

I bought a huge lot of vintage sewing trim on ebay this summer and it came with a few rolls of bias tape (for securing hems) that I wasn’t sure what I was ever going to do with. Well, I had two sets of paintings I wanted to gift to some friends and was planning to attach them with jewelry chain, but my friend Kaori gave me the idea of using bias tape to connect and hang the paintings. I used a staple gun, which was definitely overkill and has a little bit of a negative aesthetic, but it’s less permanent or potentially damaging than glue. I’m pretty satisfied with how it worked, and how easy it was!

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Hobart, New York

There is a little town that is bursting with bookstores about a 25 minute drive from the cabin I stay in during school semesters. I drove through it by happenstance and I’ll admit, was a bit overwhelmed! I only entered one store because I didn’t have enough money or time to indulge too greatly, but will definitely make a road trip with a bibliophile friend or so over the Summer. My first pile of Hobart books: WP_20180108_10_24_12_Pro (1)
As I picked these up at the beginning of a semester, I haven’t been able to read the larger books yet but read through the two small poetry chapbooks before bed at night to wash the academia out of my brain.

The Mushroom at the End of the World

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I was fortunate enough to be assigned this book for a transnational lives graduate seminar.  When it came in the mail, I was away from home and asked my husband to open the package so I knew which book had arrived. When he saw the title, he told me “This isn’t for school, this is a “you” book!” Sometimes, reading assignments can perfectly align with your interests.

This book tracks a mushroom that cannot be mass produced (and thus mass marketed) and draws a wide specialized global market. The mushroom is used as a metaphor for the often displaced and disjointed lives engaged in by people such as immigrants, refugees, survivors, and capitalist dissidents. The mushroom only grows in disturbed forests, both its thriving and its harvest occur in tandem with the spoils of modern notions of development. The book uses this metaphor to speak about adaption, survival, and the territorial and ideological limits of seemingly all-pervasive forces. It is a very sensory experience that speaks through smells and tastes as much as through text.

Past Lives Poem


Featured in the #FINALPOEMS series on the Enclave page of Entropy magazine

Past lives poem

I guess you can say I’ve been busy

Living lives anything but epic
Basking in a thousand rays of sunshine
But never in fame or honor

I’ve been busy
While you were in Atlantis
Creating what would become
The field of science

I was in France, digging into dark caves
With hands full of ochre and soot
Making sure the world would always know
The shape of my right hand and foot
And the sweet contours
Of the local buffalo
When Jesus was busy gathering
You twelve disciples and three lovely ladies
I was hitch-hiking the silk road in Han China,
Writing new poems
On the new invention of paper

While you were scheming
In the courts of Cleopatra and Marc Antony,
I was busy pouring out my gold and blood
To the sun in Mayan temples

While you were sketching with DaVinci
During the renaissance I was
Being born into endless cycles
Of brutal beatings, lynchings, and forced labor
In the centuries
Of African colonization and slavery

While you were sitting lotus with Gandhi
In peaceful protest
And running naked through Woodstock
With various grasses between your toes,
Stuck in your hair, and breathed deep into your lungs

I was sewing beads into babies’ moccasins
While grinding roots and seeds
To create paint to decorate
Faces, horses, and pottery

I was dropping out of art school
To join a street circus
And maintain a starving artistic integrity
That no one respected
While waiting for under-nourishment
And sexually transmitted maladies
To turn my wary paranoia into
A soon to be be-headed
Headful of insanity

I was getting drunk and into bar fights
With Jackson Pollack

I was in bed with Miles Davis
Giving birth to cool

I was the night clerk
At the Chelsea Hotel

I was the security detail in
Warhol’s factory

I was the designer who sat down at a sewing machine
With yards and yards of polyurethane polymers
To construct the pants
Of David Lee Roth

While you were spending a century
Growing into a noble, wise, beautiful oak tree

I was baking in the sun
Amidst miles and miles of limestone
Spineless and grey-green
I popped peyote buttons out of myself
To lure priests
And induce visions

You may bear the memory scars
Of wars, deaths, murders, and failures

But I have a million birth memories
Into larval insect bodies
And memories of lives
That may have lasted under a week
But with rebirths and passionate reproductions
That enabled me to fly,
Gave me the strength and limbs to run,
Broke through my exoskeleton
And left me the legacy
Of being father to innumerable trillions

You may know exactly which Civil War uniform
You died and were barely buried wearing

But I was the prison guard who smuggled
Paper and ink to the Marquis de Sade

You may have travelled
In Tubman’s underground railroad

But I was busy taking over a full year to
Construct and stitch a quilt
That could communicate through trade routes and history
The stories, habits, prides, and struggles of my family

Yeah you can say
I’ve been  busy
I never changed the world,
I just did a lot of work,
Punched a lot of clocks,
Named a lot of babies,
Swept a lot of floors,
Avoided many revolutions and wars,

Was part of more counter-cultures
Than kingdoms or empires
And died alone in the woods
More times than I’ve been publicly staked
And set to fire

I’ve been pretty busy

I may not have been in any
Major predictions,
But at least Nostradamus took the time
In his forwards
To thank me,

His inter-dimensional,
Omni-eon-calligrapher,
Proofreading editor

Dirt. And rocks. And rocks. And more dirt.

 

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Just one pile of dirt in a series of piles of dirt. Thrilling!

The entire back yard currently looks like a work site, as we have been digging out an enormous hole to build a garden up out of.  I’ll post about the garden another time, but for now I want to engage the mundane task of reveling in rocks and dirt. Sound under-thrilling? Well I spend just about all my time on days off from work hauling rocks and dirt around my yard, so this is a peek into my “leisure” activities, if you will.

This giant mound of dirt is a project within a project wrapped up in a project with a few projects on the side.

  1. Turning the earth and removing rocks to get the ground ready for the garden
  2. eventually making a fire pit and “patio” (extreme stretch of the term) out of the very large rocks that have come up
  3. making a rock wall around my wildflower/pollinator garden with the medium size rocks
  4. making a stone path through my back yard to the state park that’s behind my house

The very large rocks will be starring in their own post one day, for now we’ll focus on the smaller stuff.

 

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a pile of rocks. when I fit them neatly together, they will make a section of the wall

 

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the rock wall in an early stage

That ocean of green weeds you see  behind the wall is mugwort. I spend a fantastic amount of time digging it out of my yard and replacing it with wildflower seeds so that bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths, and other pollinators will be happy in my yard.

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mugwort roots, the bane of my existence

Mugwort is a very invasive species that is incredibly difficult to get rid of and will take over any spot of dirt it sees. There is a state park with beautiful hiking paths and brooks behind my house, but you have to make your way through mugwort that can grow over 6 feet tall to get there. So I’ve been making a pathway through the mugwort, hauling rocks by bucket and wheelbarrow to make for an easy passage.

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the mugwort doesn’t quite look happy that I’ve taken some of it’s ground

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hauling rocks. per norm.

 

These projects will be updated as they progress-  hey- and eventually get completed! But for now this should explain such things as 1. my farmer tan 2. why my boots are perpetually shaking out dirt 3. why I’m so sore after a day off.

 

 

 

 

Three new beaded pieces

 

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Necklace with vintage cameo and pink stone beads

My mother-in-law gifted me this cameo a few years ago and I never knew quite what I wanted to make out of it until I found this vintage Aquarius locket on ebay while researching a different vintage Aquarius pendant I own
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Vintage Aquarius locket with long beaded necklace

Seeing the cameo and locket together, I knew they should be paired with brass beads to accentuate their age and character! I made the locket necklace long enough to wear doubled up or to leave long while paired with a skirt or dress for a 1920’s look.

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Beaded anklet with pearls and seashells

While I was at it, I threw together an anklet for myself! During late winter or chilly days of spring, I like to make summer jewelry for myself to celebrate and bring focus to the beautiful warm days to come.  I suppose it’s a fashionable kind of therapy! I usually make very brightly colored anklets so I have been finding plenty of uses for this more subdued one.